Turkey celebrates May Day under emergency rule, Taksim Square closed again

Turkish riot police clash with a group of protesters as they attempted to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day in İstanbul, on May 1, 2017. YASİN AKGÜL / AFP

Celebrations are being held across Turkey to mark May Day under strict security measures due to a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, while the symbolic venue of such celebrations, İstanbul’s Taksim Square, remains closed to festivities.

A total of 30,000 police officers have been deployed in İstanbul to maintain security during the celebrations while demonstrators are not allowed to enter Taksim Square, where thousands of police officers are on duty.

Two individuals who wanted to unfurl a banner in Taksim Square were detained on Monday morning.

Major labor unions such as the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) and the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB) gathered in the public bazaar in İstanbul’s Bakırköy neighborhood to mark May Day.

Until 2009, Taksim was off limits to demonstrators following May Day 1977, also known as Bloody May Day, when 34 people were killed after unknown assailants opened fire on the crowd. Since then, May Day in Turkey has always been a source of tension.

In 2009, the government decided to declare May Day an official holiday and opened Taksim Square up for festivities. About three decades after Bloody May Day, under tight security, Taksim Square became the venue of peaceful celebrations aside from a few minor incidents in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Yet, Turkey has been engaged in the same debates on Taksim for the past four years.

In Ankara, the venues of the celebrations were Kolej Square and Tandoğan Square.

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  1. We are tourists in Istanbul today may-01-2017 staying at the Marmare Hotel

    we left the hotel early in the morning, while the square was closing. we tried to return to the hotel is the afternoon, the roads to the hotel were all blocked. we took a cab to get a close as we can to hotel and to our surprise we could not get to hotel even by foot.
    The police suggested to try and circle the fence to the other side of the square. to make a long story short we walked about 4 kilometer and some how found a place to sneak in and get to the hotel.

    This is not a very healthy way to recover the collapsed tourism to Turkey.

    We will not come here (Turkey) ever again.